Friday, June 23, 2006


This is football season. I must admit shamefully that I am not watching the world cup. Firstly the 3 year old TV mechanic did something smart to the TV, that it speaks only in Spanish now. Secondly, I don’t know much about football, except the good memories of playing football in school and our great football coach Unni Sir.

Unni Sir was a damn good coach. He dressed only in white shorts and white T-shirts. He coached us in shorts, came to the mess hall in shorts and I bet he even bathed and slept in those same old shorts. When he did not wear shorts, he wore a white pant and a white full sleeved shirt. He really knew how to motivate us, and that made us give him our 110%. He took special care of us kids, like arranging us special food – always something extra and nutritious than what other kids were served. An extra egg, or a tall glass of undiluted Milma milk, or an additional robesta banana. He walked around the mess hall and made sure his boys ate well. I was not a football maniac, I sneaked into his coaching team just for the extra ration.

Every morning started off with a few laps across the ground. We had to run like fire crackers, for if we came last he made us run penalty laps. We sweated like we were dipped in water and gasped like a fish out of water. Still, after the big laps we had to run the little ones – the short 50m sprints. We, the little Ben Jonsons, ran till we collapsed and died. Then there was stretching and flexing and strength training before the real coaching begins. Unni sir was as strict with the game as he was with the warm-up. If you ever fumbled with the ball or not follow his rules, you are doomed to a week of running. You ran till your legs wore out, then you ran more till the sun went down. If you did not dribble correctly, you had to do front rolls and get a migraine in your little kiddy head. There was punishment for everything – For wrong passes, for a missed ball, for wrong kicks– there were punishments for everything.

Although most of us did not get into the school team, we learned a lot from that experience. If you could do a week of practice in those dusty desert grounds, ignoring the scorching sun that tortured and baked your backs - you know you could do anything you set your mind to. Later in life that toughness never fails you. My football coaching taught me to realize what I am able to do, and what I an unable to do. It taught me to overcome fear, pain and fatigue, it taught us all to be modest and humble.

I have a few injuries from those days – specially my screwed up knees – that haunts me to this day. Nevertheless, Football as coached by our great Unni Sir, taught me great lessons in life.


Anonymous Soni said...

MKU or Unni Sir as we all called him was one of the last of the league of gentlemen -tough, unassuming and ready to give you your due if you could somehow make him begin to understand that glint of manlihood within you.

I remember him for his persistent efforts to make me eat the avial that somehow gave me the idea that I was being asked to gobble wet cement by the truckful. Yet no matter how tough he was, it was easy to see the kindness that he had.

some people in school could make you feel as if you were with your own dad or mom.

7:15 AM  
Blogger Pradeep said...

You, Soni and I were really fortunate to have someone like Unni Sir as our PTI (physical training instructor). One thing I remember is that he always used to say, "Never give up." Those three words are still etched in my mind.

11:26 AM  
Anonymous Priyadarshan said...

When I was a 6th standard student, I had a scout master in our school, I yet to remember his name. The scout master, never had I seen him marching or never he tries to march in front of us. Our local "bidi", (Kaja bidi") always had an eye on him. If there is anything resemble like "kaja bidi" certainly he was the right candidate for that. When ever he is trying to teach us marching, I feel just like "Tom" in Tom and Jerry cartoon, where Tom is running away to scream from his sleeping master's room, there some trick made by Jerry. What a master he was………….

9:31 AM  
Blogger Injikadan Mathai said...

whoaa..reminds me of my cricket coach Mr. audhi chetty..this was way back in the mid 80's and i was in middle school..he was an old timer even then but a strict coach..always dressed in white...cheezz those were the days...desperate to get a chance to bat we tried to impress the man in every possible way...hmm well well well..neways..nice to read the note on soccer though..in kerala soccer always had prominence over cricket..mebbe with sreesanth things might change a bit...hehehe

5:29 PM  

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